Party starts for Derby as 12-year quarter-final itch is scratched

Derbyshire set out this evening with their destiny in their own hands, knowing a victory would hand them a home quarter final and by the end of the evening it was still in their hands and they were celebrating a first home quarter-final in the Natwest T20 Blast and their first overall since 2005, winning by 48 runs with 4.2 overs to spare.

The celebrations had started in the crowd long before the final wicket fell, as the Worcestershire innings fell away in the face of a dominant Derbyshire bowling attack.

Daryn Smit, standing in for Gary Wilson who was again away on international duty, lost his third consecutive toss and with the threat of rain about it was no surprise when Rapids captain Joe Leach invited his hosts to bat first.

At the end of the third over when Derbyshire had only managed ten runs for the loss of Billy Godleman it looked an excellent decision, three overs later when they had only added 33 more and lost the wickets of Luis Reece and Matt Critchley, it still looked an excellent decision.

On a pitch that always offered assistance to the bowlers, Derbyshire made steady progress throughout the innings, kept in check by the young pace attack of Worcestershire and the experienced overseas player Mitchell Santner.

They were to find boundaries hard to come by and from the ninth to the 15th over failed to cross the rope.

But they kept a steady scoring rate batting sensibly looking for gaps and running hard for singles and twos, marshalled beautifully by the exceptional Wayne Madsen.

He became the second Derbyshire batsmen this season to score four 50s in a T20 season and took his season total past 500, the first time a batsmen has achieved this feat.

As Derbyshire moved towards a score which looked to be under par, strangled by some excellent bowling from Brett D’Oliveira and Hepburn, it took an injection of impetus in the 18th over by Madsen and Matt Henry who both cleared the rope for six and pushed Derbyshire towards what looked like a defendable total.

The last two overs reverted to type and saw singles and twos, but the damage was done and the total of 147 on a tricky pitch looked a reasonable total if not an imposing one.

If Leach was happy with his decision to bowl first at the half way stage, six overs later as his side finished the Powerplay on 39 for 4 with Leach, Clarke, Cox and D’Oliveira all back in the changing rooms he may have begun to doubt his decision.

A clearly fired-up Falcons bowling attack came out and blew away the top order with Hardus Viljoen bowling fast and accurately and Wayne Madsen being his usual nagging self. It only got worse for Leach and his team as their batting order capitulated.

Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals realistically putting the game beyond them, as Imran Tahir did exactly what he was brought into the club to do, destroying the Rapids middle order, taking four wickets for just 17 runs in a man of the match performance that bowled Derbyshire to victory.

All the bowlers deserve praise though, as they all contributed to fine victory and one of the most impressive bowling displays seen from a Derbyshire bowling unit.

Derbyshire now move onto their quarter-final which will see Hampshire visit the 3aaa County Ground for the first time in T20 cricket, on Tuesday.

T20 Blast Preview: Derbyshire Falcons vs Worcestershire Rapids

Worcestershire arrive in Derby on Friday for the last round of Natwest T20 Blast matches knowing no matter what the outcome, they will finish in eighth place in the North Group and cap off what will have been a disappointing season for them in the shortest format of the game.

Derbyshire, however, find themselves in unusual territory. They know that a win will guarantee them a quarter final place for the first time since 2005 and, unless Birmingham (it never feels right calling them that) or Leicestershire win by a massive margin, a home one at that.

Should they draw or be rained off a point may also be enough for Derbyshire, however this will then leave them looking at other results around the grounds to see if any sides or the weather have done them favours.

Both sides are coming off the back of losses and will want to finish the group stages on a high, Worcestershire for pride and Derbyshire to secure a place in the knockout stages. Derbyshire lost last night to the Leicestershire Foxes in a low scoring game and will be hoping their batting line up can fire against the Rapids.

Worcestershire lost last time to Lancashire, again in a low scoring game they never looked like winning, and will be looking to be far more competitive when visiting Derby. Derbyshire have only lost once at home this season and will be hoping to keep that record intact.

The bookies make Derbyshire favourites and it’s easy to see why, they have an excellent record and Worcestershire do not. However, all the pressure is on Derbyshire and none is on their visitors and pressure can do funny things in cricket.

I would imagine most of the Derbyshire fans will be watching this game through their fingers, but only when they aren’t biting their nails. It may all be academic, though, as the weather may be the ultimate winner if the forecast is to be believed.

Key Men

If you have more strings to your bow in modern day cricket then you are a very attractive player in the coach’s eyes, and in Matt Critchley that is exactly what Derbyshire have.

Elevated this season to open the batting, due to his ability to strike the ball cleanly and clear the ropes, he has been a success. Throw in his ability to bowl leg spin effectively, having spent time learning from Shane Warne, Jeevan Mendis and lastly Imran Tahir, and you’ll see why his bowling has come on leaps and bounds. He can keep it tight whilst taking wickets.

Finally add his superb fielding and it is clear to see why Critchley’s success is key to Derbyshire’s.

Who doesn’t love a six being hit? Apart from the bowler, of course, and in T20 cricket the Rapids have one of the best in Ross Whiteley: when Whiteley fires, they show themselves to be a side that can score big runs. The pinnacle of Whiteley’s powers were shown earlier in the campaign when he achieved the dream of six sixes in an over, off Karl Karver against Yorkshire. If he can do something similar against his old side, then their chances of upsetting the Falcons will be greatly enhanced.

Team News

Derbyshire will again be without T20 skipper Gary Wilson, who is away on international duty with Ireland, so Daryn Smit will again take on the role of understudy. Derbyshire are yet to announce their squad, however I would anticipate an unchanged squad and side from the one that played vs Leicestershire, and throughout the majority of campaign.

Worcestershire are also yet to announce their squad, but suffered no injuries in their previous game, so I envisage the squad being very similar to last time out. Now qualification is beyond them they have chosen to play their youngsters and, if you are down at the game, keep an eye out for young paceman Josh Tongue. He has genuine pace and a great future in the game.

Derbyshire Falcons squad: TBA
Worcestershire Rapids squad: TBA

Form

Derbyshire Falcons: LWLWWA
Worcestershire Rapids: LLLLWW

Weather and conditions

The current forecast for Derby shows rain for the duration of the match, so if they do get any cricket then Duckworth and Lewis may well be required. The last game at Derby produced a low scoring match. Prior to this, though, Derby has seen high scoring games and batsmen really enjoying themselves.

Having been better weather around in the area in the last few days, the groundsman will have had more preparation time and hopefully, if the precipitation stays away, we will see a return to pitches more akin to run scoring.

Date: 18th August 2017
Time: 19:30pm
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: TBC and TBC
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 4/6 Worcestershire Rapids 6/5

Scrappy Jets fail to stop Falcons flight toward quarters

Derbyshire set out tonight looking for a win that would all but guarantee them a place in the top four of the North group and a quarterfinal berth for the first time since 2005. Durham set out to add more respectability to their points total, which has been blighted by the deduction of four points for financial issues last season.

By the end of the night the hosts needed to look no more, winning and moving them to 15 points and second place in the Northern Group of the T20 Blast and edging them closer to that precious quarter final berth.

With the quarterfinal qualification left in the hands of stand in captain Daryn Smit, he would have wanted a good start and, despite losing the toss in his first game in charge, that’s exactly what he got.

His bowlers and fielders restricted Durham to 42 for 4 in the powerplay, which included two run outs, one by Critchley in the first over, dispatching outgoing England opener Keaton Jennings with a superb direct hit and the second with Hardus Viljoen running out Michael Richardson without scoring in his follow through using fancy footwork, not his hands.

The other two wickets fell to the excellent Wayne Madsen and overseas player Matt Henry. Madsen really put the breaks on the Jets, with his tight nagging off spin limiting the scoring options for the Jets batsmen. Henry saw the back of danger man Tom Latham off the last ball of the powerplay, when he picked out Alex Hughes on the deep mid wicket boundary for a well made 28 of 23 balls.

Smit’s spinners continued to give him control with the ball in the middle overs, restricting the flow of boundaries, with the Jets failing to find the boundary for a period of five overs. At that point it looked like Durham were going to struggle to post a really competitive total, not helped by the loss of two further wickets with Coughlin and Burnham both departing.

his brought Poynter to the crease and this gave Durham the impetus the innings needed, scoring a magnificent 61 not out off 40 balls. Durham still looked to be well short of a competitive total, but 35 off the final two overs with Cotton and Henry both losing their control of length, allowing the Jets to post 161 for 7 and setting the Falcons 162 for victory.

That chase got off to a steady start with Critchley and Godleman nudging singles and finding the boundary once an over, until Godleman was caught off what looked to be a no ball but the third umpire saw some part of Weighell’s boot behind the line and he had to go.

The Falcons reached the end of the powerplay with 44 runs to their name and the further loss of Critchley.

Madsen and Reece then set about building an innings and moving Derbyshire towards their victory total. When Madsen fell in the 11th over they had moved the score to 76 for 3 and looked relatively comfortable, although not guaranteed victory.

The man that guaranteed victory was Luis Reece who scored a beautifully crafted 66 of 49 balls, including five 4s and two 6s and in the process became the first Derbyshire batsman to score four scores of 50 or more in a T20 season. It could have been very different however had Paul Coughlin held on to a relatively simple catch offered to him on the deep mid-wicket boundary, when Reece was on just 21.

This was a running theme for the Jets fielders throughout the innings, with miss-fields and dropped catches the norm and when they did hold a catch it was off a no ball.

While Reece was quite rightly named man of the match a special mention must go to Matt Henry, who came in and scored a quick fire 20 off 10 balls and allowed Derbyshire to have a stuttering finish, before captain Smit hit the winning runs with three balls and three wickets to spare.

On the victory Smit said “I’d have taken 161 at half time. I thought it was below par looking at the batting side and If you’d told me at 15 overs we would’ve won with three balls to spare, I’d have taken that.

“We were under pressure at one stage, before Luis Reece and Matt Henry changed the momentum of the innings.”

Derbyshire now move on to play Leicestershire on Thursday knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the quarter finals and, barring a set of results which would challenge even the loftiest of maths professors, a home one to boot.

Durham move on to Northampton on Friday, certain of finishing bottom of the group.

T20 Blast Preview: Derbyshire Falcons vs Durham Jets

Durham and the Sky TV Cameras are visiting the 3aaa County Ground tonight, with Derbyshire looking for a victory that will push them towards the precipice of the quarter finals for the first time since 2005.

The match for Durham is a dead rubber, with them sitting bottom of the North Group on 2 points following their points deduction at the start of the season for the financial matters last season, meaning they are playing for nothing but pride.

Conversely, Derbyshire though find themselves in fifth on 13 points but with two games in hand over the sides above them. A victory will see them climb to second in the table and virtually guaranteed a quarter final place.

Last time out Derbyshire lost to the table toppers Nottinghamshire, but they will be looking to put that behind them and get back to winning ways with a move back into the quarter final spots. Before that they beat Leicestershire comfortably, and they will be hoping for a repeat of that tonight.

Durham also lost last time out and won the time before that, and they will also be hoping to get back to winning ways, although with nothing to play for Derbyshire’s desire for victory should be stronger.

The bookies make Derbyshire clear favourites and it’s clear to see why. The weather looks set fair and Derbyshire have only lost once at home this season. That’s a record they will be looking to keep intact.

Key Men

When Derbyshire started this campaign not many would’ve put four day skipper Billy Godleman in their starting eleven. With a reputation for steady and safe scoring in this competition, however, Billy the sensible has become “Billy the Basher” and has given the side real impetus at the top of the order – impetus that every side needs.

If Godleman can fire as he has done throughout the campaign, then Derbyshire’s chances of victory will be greatly enhanced. With Wilson away as well, Godleman’s captaincy experience will be invaluable to stand in skipper Smit.

Durham started the campaign poorly to say the least, but this was without overseas star Tom Latham. Since Latham has come into the side the Jets’ fortunes have improved, having only lost one of the games he has played. When Latham scored runs for the Jets, they have won, scoring 62 in the victory over Worcestershire. If Latham can repeat this tonight then Durham’s chances will improve no end.

Team News

Derbyshire will be without their regular T20 captain Gary Wilson, who is away on international duty with Ireland, so Daryn Smit takes over the reigns and will also continue to keep wicket. The Falcons do, however, have Matt Crictchley back, who has had an enforced absence since being struck on the helmet against Leicestershire, and his clean hitting at the top of the order will be welcomed

Durham are yet to announce their squad for the game, however they will be hoping for consistency in selection to enable their recent improvement in form in this competition, having Won and Drawn one of their last three matches. They will be looking for Tom Latham and the evergreen Paul Collingwood as the experience and quality in their squad to push for victory.

Derbyshire Falcons squad: D Smit (c, wk), C Brodrick, G Cork, B Cotton, M Critchley, B Godleman, M Henry, A Hughes, W Madsen, T Milnes, L Reece, I Tahir, H Viljoen, T Wood

Durham Jets squad: TBA

Form

Derbyshire Falcons: LWWAWL
Durham Jets: LWDLWL

Weather and conditions

The forecast is good for Derby this evening, with sunshine predicted for the entirety of the game. The pitches at Derby so far this year have provided runs, have played true and have provided entertaining cricket. The game last week at the 3aaa County Ground against the West Indies also provided plenty of runs, and I would imagine this will continue this evening.

Date: 15th August 2017
Time: 18:30
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: Peter Hartley and Martin Saggers
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire 1/2, Durham 13/8

 

Falcons stay top despite Outlaws clipping their wings

For the second time this season Derbyshire fell just short of victory against their local East Midlands rivals, falling to their first home defeat of the season, leaving them on 13 points in the North Group, still topping the table by virtue of net run rate.

The victory lifts Nottinghamshire into fourth place and the final quarter final place on 12 points, however they have a game in hand over their hosts tonight. The Outlaws will play that match tomorrow against Durham at home, who are coming off the back of two consecutive victories, but will be hoping to end that run and finish the weekend on top of the table.

With a batting top six line up of Hales, Wessels, Moores, Taylor, Christian and Patel you expect one to fire and score runs, tonight all bar Hales contributed and set Derbyshire an imposing target of 190 for victory.

The experienced and often brutal attack found the boundary with regular ease throughout the innings, only failing to find the boundary in four of the twenty overs bowled, crossing the rope 23 times with 14 fours and 9 sixes, with two of those sixes coming off the last two balls of the innings.

The Outlaws maintained a steady run rate throughout the innings and always looked like setting the Falcons a large total, even when Hales fell in the fourth over to a catch by Luis Reece off Wayne Madsen, which had he not taken it would have removed his head from his shoulders. The Outlaws barely broke stride, with Hales’ opening partner Riki Wessels and Tom Moores continuing their good work.

It may have been different, though, had Luis Reece held onto a catch on the boundary off Imran Tahir in the third over, which he misjudged and only managed to palm over the rope for six, as Wessels went on to score 37 and give the innings real impetus.

The main stay of the Outlaws’ innings however was the partnership between Moores and Brendon Taylor who joined him when Wessels fell to Alex Hughes in the seventh over, putting on 78 and setting the platform for Samit Patel and captain Dan Christian to smash the Outlaws to the total of 189, Christian scoring 30 off 16 balls and Patel who appeared angry to be batting at six 29 off 18 balls.

The late onslaught came just as Derbyshire’s bowlers appeared to have wrestled back some control, with Ben Cotton and Imran Tahir bowling a spell of four tight overs, however 17 off the last over by Matt Henry proved to be the clincher and took a par score to a score that looked too many on a pitch that difficult to score easily on.

Derbyshire’s reply got off to an awful start, losing Billy Godleman second ball caught behind off Samit Patel whose good night carried on where his batting left off. This brought Luis Reece to the crease who, with his head still attached from earlier, scored a 32 ball 53 that included three straight 6s – which were a joy to behold – and three 4s, before falling to Dan Christian caught by the irrepressible Patel at short cover.

Despite this, Derbyshire never got ahead of the rate and were always under pressure, having to score at 9, 10 or 11 an over and the pressure told, losing wickets at regular intervals, with only Wood, Madsen, Hughes and the afore mentioned Reece making a score of note.

As Derbyshire reached the last 4 overs needing 44 to win, the boundaries dried up and so did the Falcons’ chances of winning, falling 9 runs short of a victory target which always looked above par at the half way stage, the two sixes off the last two balls proving very costly.

Derbyshire head into the last three games with their destiny in their own hands and will be hoping that, with two home games in those last three, they have a real chance of remaining in the quarter final positions and reaching the knock out stages for the first time since 2005.

Notts will be hoping to join them there and a victory tomorrow will go a long way to securing that.

 

T20 Blast Preview: Derbyshire Falcons vs Nottinghamshire Outlaws

Nottinghamshire make the short journey down the A52 to Derbyshire and into uncharted territory, with Derbyshire sitting top of the Northern Group and the Outlaws sitting in 5th.

The Outlaws need a result to get them back into the top four and the quarter final spots. If you had asked any pundits, or even Derbyshire fans, if this would be the position the teams would find themselves in at this stage of the competition, it would have been a very brave or perhaps deluded man who would have predicted what has happened.

Derbyshire have been a revelation in T20 cricket this season, however, and have won 6 of the nine completed games they have featured in. Their batsmen have scored runs for fun and their bowlers have kept it as tight as you can in the modern T20 game.

Derbyshire will be looking to back up their impressive victory over Yorkshire last night, which moved them to the top of the group after chasing down 181 at Headingley, and to cement their place at the top of the group before the break for Championship cricket to return.

The Outlaws have won four of their seven completed games, but those games have been an absolute masterclass in T20 batting, with Hales and Wessels opening for the Nottinghamshire side. They have been devastating to opposition attacks, and have taken games away from sides in the blink of an eye.

The visitors will be hoping for a repeat of the previous meeting between the two sides, where they triumphed by just five runs at Trent Bridge.

The bookies believe that Notts are clear favourites to do this and, if you look at the squads you can see why. Derbyshire are top of the group for a reason, however, and it’s not by accident: they have been playing excellent cricket.

Whenever I write a preview I always say “If I were a betting man”. Well, tonight I might be and my money would be going on the Falcons for a victory.

Key Men

When you watch Derbyshire there is always one man who stands out, and that man is Wayne Madsen. He is a picture of consistency and, if he doesn’t score runs, then run for cover as the game may be followed by the arrival of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

He is vying to be the first Derbyshire batsman to score four half centuries in a campaign and is just one away, after scoring 49 and 43 in his last two innings. This season has also seen the emergence of Wayne Madsen as a key part of the bowling attack. His bowling has really improved and his ability to keep it tight, and often take a vital wicket, is a lovely asset for his skipper. If Madsen can fire tonight for Derbyshire, then a victory is within their grasp.

In a team of international superstars it is easy to have your eye drawn to Hales, Patel and Gurney. However, for me the man most key to Notts’ success is Steven Mullaney. Mullaney very rarely gets the credit he deserves His middle order batting is brutal and he can clear the ropes, but he judges situations well and when he needs to accumulate runs instead he does.

His bowling is also a real weapon. He takes wickets and keeps the run rate down with his nagging medium pace. He is a genuine all-round cricketer, who consistently performs and is central to the Outlaws’ success not just in this match but in every game.

Team News

Derbyshire will again be without Matt Critchley, who is side lined due to the blow he took to his head in the Leicestershire game. He is replaced in the squad by Gregg Cork. Despite this, I expect Derbyshire to name an unchanged side from the one that defeated Yorkshire last night, so Tom Wood should make his second appearance of the season and the ones to miss out will be Cork, Broderick and Quadri.

The Outlaws have their battery of internationals available to them with Hales, Patel, Taylor, Christian, Gurney and Sodhi, who will give them fire power with bat and ball. The batting has fired for the Outlaws this season, and I see no changes in the batting line up, so a top three of Hales, Wessels and Moores should remain the same, as should the rest of the side from the last completed game over Yorkshire.

Derbyshire Falcons squad: G Wilson (c), C Brodrick, B Cotton, G Cork, B Godleman, M Henry, A Hughes, W Madsen, H Qadri, L Reece, D Smit (wk), I Tahir, H Viljoen, T Wood

Nottinghamshire Outlaws squad: D Christian (c), J Ball, H Gurney,  A Hales, B Hutton, S Mullaney, S Patel, T Moores (wk), B Root, I Sodhi, B Taylor, R Wessels, L Wood

Form

Derbyshire Falcons: AWLLWL
Nottinghamshire Outlaws: AWALWW

Weather and conditions

The weather looks set fair for the game tonight with no chance of rain, so leave your umbrella and waterproofs at home. The pitches at Derby have generally offered more runs than Vernon Philander at the Oval last week, however with the amount of rain that has fallen in Derby over the last week, the pitch will have been under the covers for more time than the Groundsman would have liked. The last game at Derby saw a slower and stickier pitch, because of this, and slightly fewer runs, so tonight should see a great contest between bat and ball.

Date: Friday 4th August 2017
Time: 19:00
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: Burns and Debenham
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 11/8 Nottinghamshire Outlaws 4/7

 

Derbyshire eye T20 quarter final spot

If you look in a thesaurus under the word “restricted” it says curbed, suppressed, impeded and chained, after today it should also have the phrase “Derbyshire Falcons vs Leicestershire Foxes Natwest T20 30th July 2017.” It may not be catchy or drip off the tongue, but it is accurate, with Gary Wilson’s men restricting the Foxes to just 104 for 9 off their full twenty overs.

The day started well for Wilson as he won the toss and opted to bowl first, on a pitch which was offering something for the bowlers and proved difficult for the Foxes batsmen to get away and score their runs throughout the innings.

The innings saw Leicestershire fail to score a boundary between the fourth ball of the 10th over and the first ball of the 20th.  This period also saw the loss of six wickets for just 46 runs in one of the most complete bowling and fielding displays possible. Every bowler contributed to the supressed nature of the innings, sharing the wickets out, but the stand out figures went to overseas star Matt Henry who finished his four overs with figures of 3 for 18.

Equally as impressive as the bowling display was the fielding which was crisp and precise amongst all the Falcon’s fielders, but Alex Hughes was superb taking three catches and saving a number of runs in the field with his aggressive and athletic out fielding.

Leicestershire’s batsmen had to try and force the pace throughout and a great number fell trying to do this, none more so that big hitting Mark Cosgrove who was run out by Matt Critchley looking for a run which simply wasn’t there.

When the Foxes look at the scorecard at the end of the day, missing runs will be what sticks out to them as they posted their lowest total vs Derbyshire in T20 cricket, a total which was never going to be enough to trouble a Falcons batting line up which has fired more often than not this season in the Blast.

The Falcons did however look in a little bit of trouble at 21 for 3 half way through the third over, and Critchley also back in the pavilion retired hurt after being struck on the helmet by a Dieter Klein bouncer. This however brought together Wayne Madsen, this season’s stand out batsmen for the Falcons and Hughes to the crease who put together an unbeaten stand of 86 to guide the Falcons home in 13.5 overs. Madsen agonisingly finished on 49, one run short of becoming the first Derbyshire batsman to score four half centuries in a T20 season.

The most striking difference in the two innings was the ease of which Madsen and Hughes found the boundary and were able to keep the score ticking over, with the pair only failing to find the boundary in three of the ten overs they were together for, which put the game out of the reach of the Leicestershire foxes. Both struck the ball beautifully, Hughes striking a glorious straight six off Gavin Griffiths and Madsen playing two delightful ramp shots over the keeper, one of which to bring up the victory.

This defeat leaves the foxes without a win in their last four games and still lying in sixth place in the table, while Derbyshire find themselves in second place on 11 points and dreaming of a quarter final place for the first time since 2005. Next up for the Foxes is the visit of the Notts Outlaws to the Fischer County Ground, not the best side to face when you are looking for your first win in five, while Derbyshire will travel to Headingley for a top of the table clash looking to cement their place in the top two and a home quarter final.

T20 Blast Preview: Derbyshire Falcons vs Leicestershire Foxes

Derbyshire welcome Leicestershire to the 3aaa County Ground on Sunday, finding themselves in fourth place in the table and the visitors in sixth, separated by one point, although the foxes have played a game less. The Foxes will be hoping to put an end to their recent run of three defeats, and the Falcons will be hoping to build on their victory in their last completed match against Lancashire.

A win for both sides will greatly enhance their chances of being in the final four, for Leicestershire a win will leave them on 10 points and potentially as high as second in the group, for Derbyshire a win would move them to 11 points and potentially up to 1st in the table. Sadly, looking at the forecast, it is more likely that each side will take a point and the status quo will remain.

Both sides have shown flashes of genius in this competition this year, but also glimpses of being distinctly average. They will both be looking to show more of the brilliance on a more consistent basis, a basis which would cement their place in the qualifying places and see them reach the quarter finals.

The quarter finals are somewhere the visitors are used to finding themselves, whereas the hosts are far less frequent visitors to the knock out stages and will be looking to put that right this season.

What happens on Sunday will go a long way to deciding the outcome of the qualifying group stages, and it will be tight: even the bookies can’t separate them. Sadly the only thing that may separate the sides on Sunday will be a dressing room wall as the rain forces them to stay indoors, but forecasters can be wrong, so fingers crossed for a game.

Key Men

Before the T20 season started Falcons fans were concerned they had no one at the top of the order to set their innings off to a flyer: no McCullum, Guptil or Finch. They were right in they didn’t have any of those, but what they do have is Luis Reece.

Reece has been a revelation in T20 cricket this season, scoring 287 runs at a strike rate of 140 and an average of 57.40, giving the innings impetus, not in the same way as those big hitters, but in an elegant, sublime way a way that makes you look at the scorecard and wonder how he suddenly has 40 of 23 balls. Throw in his ability to bowl nippy left arm medium pace, and his performance is key to Derbyshire succeeding at T20 cricket.

In the modern game, if you haven’t got a hard hitting wicketkeeper batsman then you are about as out of fashion as double denim. Luckily for the Foxes, they have overseas player Luke Ronchi. The now retired New Zealand international gives them impetus at the start of the innings and is their leading run scorer in the competition this season, with 162 runs at an average of 27 and an impressive strike rate of 158. Consider the experience he has in the field as well, and he is key to the success of this foxes side.

Team News

Derbyshire have named an unchanged squad for the game and are unlikely to play a different eleven to the one that triumphed against Lancashire on Tuesday.

Leicestershire announced the same squad that lost to Durham last time out, but will be hoping for a different result. They are still without all rounder Ben Raine, who continues to be side lined by injury. They have no additional injury concerns.

Derbyshire Falcons squad: G Wilson (c), C Brodrick, B Cotton, M Critchley, B Godleman, M Henry, A Hughes, W Madsen, H Qadri, L Reece, D Smit (wk), I Tahir, H Viljoen, T Wood

Leicestershire Foxes squad: McKay (c), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pettini, Pillans, Ronchi (wk), Sayer, Wells

Form

Derbyshire Falcons: AWLLWL
Leicestershire Foxes: LLLWWW

Weather and conditions

The forecast for this Sunday’s game is that of sunshine, showers, Duckworth and Lewis I’m afraid. If the game does get underway then it will no doubt be a shortened affair. The pitches at Derby have produced plenty of runs and if there is a game on Sunday then we should be in for more of the same, although with the amount of moisture that has been around there is a chance the pitch maybe a little livelier and have more in it for the bowlers.

Date: 30th July 2017
Time: 14:30
Ground: 3aaa County Ground, Derby
Umpires: Hartley and Llong
Odds (SkyBet): Derbyshire Falcons 10/11 Leicestershire Foxes 10/11

T20 Blast Preview: Leicestershire Foxes v Durham Jets

 

King Canute, Davy Crockett at the Alamo and Wile E. Coyote with the Road Runner all stood more of a chance of winning their respective battles than the Durham Jets did at the start of this Natwest T20 Blast competition, with the ECB docking them 4 points before a ball had been bowled.

Their form during the competition has done little to alter their situation, failing to win any of their first six games and they sit rooted to the foot of the table still on minus four points.

Leicestershire, on the other hand, could be compared to Rocky Balboa, the Jamaican bobsleigh team or their footballing counterparts as underdogs who regularly perform above their station. This season is no different as they currently sit fourth in the table at the time of writing and a good victory tonight could see them top the table as they turn the changing room lights out at the Fischer County Ground tonight.

The Foxes however will be looking to arrest a recent dip in form, having lost their last two fixtures, both of which have been at home and will be hoping the visit of North Group basement dwellers Durham gives them the perfect opportunity to do this.

When the sides met earlier in the season it was a comfortable win for Leicestershire by 27 runs and if the weather stays away everything, including the bookies, suggest they are the clear favourites for this one as well.

Key Men

In the modern game if you haven’t got a hard hitting wicketkeeper batsman then you are about as out of fashion as double denim. Luckily for the Foxes they have overseas player Luke Ronchi. The now-retired New Zealand international gives them impetus at the start of the innings and is their leading run scorer in the competition this season, with 162 runs at an average of 27 and an impressive strike rate of 158. Throw in the experience he has in the field too and he is key to the success of this foxes side.

If you have players that can contribute with both bat and ball, then in T20 you are laughing. Durham have a few who can, but this season Ryan Pringle has come to the fore, taking 7 wickets at an average of 18 and at a reasonably miserly economy rate of 7.41. Only the evergreen Paul Collingwood has a lower economy rate amongst regular bowlers. Pringle has also scored 62 runs, which may not sound a lot, but coming in down the order at a strike rate of 102.33 is more than handy. If his off spin can continue to show control and take wickets along with lower order runs, then his performance will be key to Durham breaking their duck this season.

Team News

Leicestershire Foxes: Leicestershire have no new injury worries or concerns to contend with and will realistically name an unchanged squad for this fixture.

Leicestershire Foxes squad: McKay (c), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pettini, Pillans, Ronchi (wk), Sayer, Wells.

Durham Jets: Durham will again be without Keaton Jennings and Mark Wood who are away with England or injured. Joining Wood on the physio’s couch is overseas player Tom Latham who is still to make an appearance for the Jets this season. Apart from this, Durham have no new injury concerns coming into the game.

Durham Jets squad: TBA

Form

Leicestershire Foxes: LLWWWW

Durham Jets: LLLLLL

Weather and conditions

This game may see Durham gain their first point of the season, not through their cricketing prowess, but through the weather. Rain is forecast from 6pm onwards through the night and if it is to be believed there will be a lot of thumbs being twiddled and crosswords completed before Durham head back up the A1. If they do get on, the pitches at Grace Road have produced decent scores, however with rain about there may be a bit more assistance for the bowlers.

Date: 28th July 2017

Time: 18:30

Ground: Fischer County Ground, Grace Road

Umpires: Warren and Lloyds

Odds (SkyBet): Leicestershire 2/5, Durham 15/8

 

McCullum gives Middlesex hope with victory at Lord’s

When you turn up to play at Lord’s, knowing it’s going to be a packed house, you want everything to go right for you, and for The Eagles skipper Ryan Ten Doscarte the evening started well, he won the toss and elected to field.

After the first over, where overseas superstar Mohammed Amir conceded just two runs, it looked a very good decision. Five overs later as the power play finished with Middlesex on 71, for the loss of just Nick Gubbings caught well in the deep by Amir off Matthew Dixon, things were not going so well.

The main aggressor was former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, who brought up his 50 off the last ball of the power play – a 50 that included six 4s and four 6s. One of those sixes was scored with a flat batted slap over cover, which brought a collective ooohhhh from the sold out crowd at Lord’s.

When McCullum did fall, holing out to Simon Harmer off the bowling of Ravi Bopara, he had scored 63 runs of 28 balls, including five 6s and 6 4s, scored with a brutal elegance that was irresistible to watch. It didn’t matter where the bowlers put it, McCullum put it to the boundary.

If Essex fans thought they could breathe a sigh of relief with the departure of the Kiwi, they were wrong. The back of McCullum brought the front of Eoin Morgan, England’s white ball captain, and a partnership between him and John Simpson that saw them add 69 runs in seven overs, before Simpson fell to Daniel Lawrence, stumped by the always-brilliant James Foster for 51.

As every cricketer knows, and shouts, as they play, “one brings two”; and Simpson’s one brought the two of Scott, caught behind two balls later. This a relative period of calm saw them add just 17 more runs and the further loss of Morgan, bowled by Lawrence trying to up the scoring rate. It was a wicket that saw Lawrence claim his best ever T20 bowling figures, 3 for 21, and the only bowler who went at fewer than six an over.

If Essex fans thought things were starting to go their way again, they were wrong. As they had to watch the 20th over bowled by Matt Dixon go for 26 runs, including three huge sixes, setting Essex 204 to win.

If everything was going wrong for Essex, then of course everything was going right for Middlesex and this didn’t change in the second half of the game. Faced with a mammoth run chase, Essex had to be positive and he who lives by the sword dies by the sword. Sadly for Essex, their batsmen fell on their swords at regular intervals throughout the first nine overs, putting the target beyond them.

There were bright spots for Essex, though. Daniel Lawrence, who I believe will play for England in the future, hit some beautiful shots including a flick off his legs for six off Steven Finn, which even the bowler applauded. The wickets were shared about in the first nine overs; the catches, however, were not – with Morgan claiming four of the five catches all at backward point.

James Foster and Paul Walter came together in the ninth over, playing with freedom and threatening to get Essex back into the game. Foster brought up his 50 off 23 balls with five 4s and two 6s, but the next ball Walter holed out and broke the partnership. It all but ended the glimmer of hope Essex had.

When Foster fell two balls later, and Amir the very next ball, that glimmer was totally extinguished, leaving Essex on 125 for 9 at the end of the 15th over.

Essex were finally put out of their misery in the 17th over when Tom Helm took the fifth of his five wickets, bowling Mathew Dixon and achieving the best figures by a Middlesex bowler in T20 cricket – 5 for 11 from 3.2 overs and securing a win for Middlesex by 72 runs. This brings them level with Essex, on seven points, and reignites their Natwest T20 Blast campaign.